Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam (Telugu: శ్రీపతి పండితారాధ్యుల బాల సుబ్రహ్మణ్యం About this sound pronunciation (help·info); born 4 June 1946) is an Indian playback singer, actor, music director, voice actor and film producer. He is referred to as S. P. B. or Balu by the media. He has won the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer six times closely following K. J. Yesudas. He holds a record to have won the Nandi Awards twenty five times from Andhra Pradesh state government. He has sung over 50,000 songs in 15 Indian languages with a career spanning over 4 decades. Starting his career in 1966, he went on to become one of the leading playback singers of his time in India. He is the only playback singer in India to have won National Film Awards across four languages. He has also won a Filmfare Award, three Filmfare Awards South and numerous state awards from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. He holds the record of having recorded the most number of songs for any male playback singer. He is a recipient of the civilian awards such as Padmashri (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2011) from the Government of India.
Early life and background
Balasubrahmanyam was born to S. P. Sambamurthy in Konetammapeta of Madras Presidency, present day Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh in a Brahmin Family. Balasubrahmanyam's father was a Harikatha artist who had also acted in plays. He has two brothers and five sisters. He is the elder brother of singer S.P. Sailaja. He is married to Savitri and has two children, Pallavi and S. P. B. Charan who is a playback singer and film producer as well.
Balasubrahmanyam developed an interest towards music at an early age, studied notations and learned to play instruments such as the harmonium and flute on his own while listening to his father. His father wanted him to become an engineer, which brought him to Anantapur, where he enrolled for the Engineering course at JNTU College of Engineering Anantapur. Later he discontinued the course due to typhoid, and then joined as an Associate Member of the Institution of Engineers, Chennai. Meanwhile, he also pursued his hobby and won awards at many singing competitions. In 1964, he won the first prize in a music competition for amateur singers organised by the Madras-based Telugu Cultural Organisation, and earned his first opportunity from music director S. P. Kodandapani.
After dropping out of engineering, Balasubrahmayam used to regularly visit music composers seeking for opportunities to sing. The first song that he sang for an audition was, "Nilave Ennidam Nerungadhe", a melody rendered by veteran playback singer P. B. Srinivas. It was P. B. Srinivas who used to write and give him some multi-lingual verses in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, English and Urdu.  Playback singing Career
Balasubrahmanyam has sung more than 50,000 songs in more than 15 different Indian languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, English, Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Tulu, Sanskrit, Assamese, Konkani, Badaga and Gondi. He holds the record of having sung the most number of songs for any male playback singer in the world.  Early career: 1960s
Before becoming a full-fledged cinema singer, Balu was the leader of a light music troupe composed of Anirutta (on the harmonium), Ilaiyaraaja (on guitar and later on harmonium), Baskar (on percussion), and Gangai Amaran (on guitar). Balasubrahmanyam made his debut as a playback singer on 15 December 1966 with Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramanna, a Telugu film scored by his mentor, S. P. Kodandapani. He was selected as the best singer in a singing competition which was judged by S. P. Kodandapani and the legendary singer Ghantasala. Balasubrahmanyam was selected as the best singer, subsequent to which Kodandapani played a major role in moulding his career. He recorded his first non-Telugu song in the Kannada movie Nakkare Ade Swarga for the song "Kanasido Nanasido" with P. Susheela in 1967.
Later he entered Tamil films and recorded his first Tamil song in the 1969 film Shanthi Nilaiyam, that starred Gemini Ganesan. From then on, he became the most sought-after singer in the Telugu and Tamil film industries. His song "Aayiram Nilavae Vaa" for M.G.R in the Tamil film Aadimai Penn became very popular and he etched himself a niche for him in Tamil films. From there was no looking back for him. He was introduced to Malayalam film industry by R. K. Shekhar, father of A. R. Rahman in the film Yogamullava. Subsequently, he became popular in 1969 with the song "Ee Kadalum Marukadalum" from the film Kadalppalam in Malayalam. He also sung for the great N. T. Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao for so many hits songs.  Prominence in South: 1970s
He received his first National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer in 1980 for the Telugu film Shankarabharanam, a film directed by K. Vishwanath. In 1976, he recorded up to 23 songs, including 15 duets with P. Susheela in a single day. For Kannada composer Upendra Kumar, Balasubrahmanyam recorded 16 songs in just 6 hours. Again for Ram Laxman, he recorded six songs in 4 hours in Mumbai. Between three recording theatres in Mumbai, he sang 17 songs in a day for Anand-Milind.
He is the first recipient of the "Ghantasala National Award" named after the famous and legendary singer Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, and whom Balasubrahmanyam admires a lot. He has often referred to himself as "Ekalavya Sishya" (untutored disciple) of Ghantasala  Bollywood entry: 1980s
Balasubrahmanyam's first break in Hindi films was Ek Duje Ke Liye (1981), for which he received the National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer. He was playback singer for Bollywood actor Salman Khan in most of his movies from 1989 to 1995.  1990s
In the 1990s he worked with composers like Vidyasagar, M. M. Keeravani, S. A. Rajkumar but his association with A. R. Rahman turned out be a major success.
The song "Umandu Ghumandu" from the Kannada film Ganayogi Panchakshari Gavayi (1995) was based on Hindustani classical music, for which he received his 4th National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer.  Association with composers